The Shmooze

Banned! Israel May Outlaw Weird Names

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Israel would ban strange names under a bill that was just debated by Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation. It seeks to outlaw parents from giving their newborns highly unusual names.

Current law already authorizes the Interior Minister to refuse to register a name if “it could mislead or offend the public.” The newly proposed law, however, would establish a “Public Names Committee” that would judge whether a name could also be possibly damaging to a child him or herself.

MKs Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and Miri Regev (Likud), who co-sponsored the proposal, have suggested that the committee would consist of an educator, a social worker and a psychologist. The idea would be that these people would be able to provide guidance to the Interior Ministry and parents in such cases when a births registry clerk was confronted with a questionable name. “Giving a hurtful and insulting name to a minor, or names of curses or negative figures, could make him an object of mockery in the eyes of his peers and damage his self-image and self-confidence,” the lawmakers were quoted as saying.

Whether or not this proposed law actually passes the Knesset, it’s unclear whether it might be applied to Natalie Portman’s baby, who is named after the Hebrew letter, Aleph. In any case, the 6-month old with the unusual moniker would probably have been grandfathered in.


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